Hunger and Thirst: Narrating Environmental Crisis Through Food and Water

(Panel)


Global Anglophone / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Délice Williams (University of Delaware)

Brooke Stanley (University of Delaware)

The “Anthropocene” framework asks us to “scale up,” imagining environmental problems in planetary terms. But what might emerge if we instead focused on crisis as an embodied experience situated in the context of larger systems of resource management and circulation? This session invites presenters to consider this overlap between embodiment and environmental crisis. How do literary and cultural texts mobilize “hunger” and “thirst” as symptoms of environmental crisis? What relations between individual, community, and planet might hunger or thirst bring to our attention? How do representations of need and scarcity, or of appetite and even gluttony, enable us to think environmental crisis differently? And how might a focus on hunger and thirst enrich or enliven understandings of interconnections between human, nonhuman, and planetary bodies in crisis? These are some of the questions we hope to discuss.

We welcome papers from a range of critical perspectives. We are particularly interested in papers that address environmental justice and/or highlight the work of BIPOC or Global South authors, artists, or activists. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

Natural and unnatural disaster

Hungry human and non-human bodies

The biopolitics of thirst and hunger

Water systems, water management, water justice

Sea-level rise, flooding, and/or amplified storms

Food systems, food justice, food sovereignty

Connections between resource access and sovereignty, decolonization, and/or racial justice

“Modern water” and scarcity

Food and water famine

Drought and climate change

Embodied abjection

Narrating toxic water systems: “produced water,” water contaminated by oil drilling and other industrial processes, crises in water supply

Hunger/thirst as narrative modes; conceptualizing hard-to-picture systems


How do literary and cultural texts mobilize “hunger” and “thirst” as symptoms of environmental crisis? What relations between individual, community, and planet might hunger or thirst bring to our attention? This session invites presenters to consider possible interconnections between environmental crisis and hunger and thirst as embodied experiences.